Teen called to testify in honor killing case goes missing

Al-Amouri reportedly saw his older brother Mohammed strangle their sister, Najlaa.

A DEMONSTRATOR holds a banner demanding legal protection for women, in Ramallah on September 4. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A DEMONSTRATOR holds a banner demanding legal protection for women, in Ramallah on September 4.
 Taha al-Amouri, a teenager from Lod, went missing after being called to court to testify against his brother, Israeli Police reported on Sunday.
According to Ynet, the
16-year-old saw his older brother, 32-year-old Mohammed al-Amouri, strangling their sister, 19-year-old Naljaa, after she had "harmed the dignity of their family," and tried to stop him.

Taha, who was supposed to testify in the Central District Court, was last seen over a week ago. His testimony was supposed to take place earlier than usual, as the prosecutor's office believed he might be unable to testify.

Officers were reportedly sent to his school, as well as his home and that of one of his sisters after he did not show up at the court on Monday, but failed to find him.

The teen's father filed a missing person report, and police published a notice calling upon the public to "assist in finding a missing person at risk."

Najlaa was allegedly murdered by Mohammed on April 11. Mohammed was indicted for premeditated murder in June. The indictment, according to Israeli media, describes his "systematic torment" of Najlaa. 

"We intend to hold a meeting with senior officials to examine how to act if and when he is discovered," the prosecution's representative on the case said on Wednesday when Taha went missing.

Najlaa's alleged murder is yet another in a series of murders in the Arab sector, commonly referred to as "honor killings," as they are often committed with a motive that the victim's actions are indecent or shameful to their family.

Just over a month ago, the murder of a Palestinian student from Bethlehem named Israa Ghrayeb sparked a wave of protests in the Palestinian community – from Ramallah in the West Bank to Rafah in the Gaza Strip and over half a dozen cities across Israel.

The newly-formed Palestinian feminist movement named Tal'at ("coming out" or "taking the streets") was launched under the slogans "Free homeland, free women," as well as "You cannot liberate the land without liberating the women." 

الآن، مسيرة طالعات في رام الله تتجه نحو مستشفى رام الله حيث ترقد امرأة من جنين تعاني من اصابات شديدة نتيجة عنف أسري وحشي. #طالعات عشانها وعشان كل واحدة فينا!

Posted by ‎وطن حر نساء حرة‎ on Thursday, 26 September 2019
The protesters said there is "no honor in honor killings," calling upon police and security forces – both Israeli and Palestinian – to fight the phenomenon.

According to Walla, on the night of the alleged murder, Najlaa arrived home at 9 p.m. and entered one of the rooms. Mohammed arrived at 11 p.m. and walked into the room. Taha reportedly entered the room, fearing for Najlaa, but was driven out by his older brother.

After a short brawl between the two, Mohammed decided to kill his younger sister. Taha tried to stop his older brother, who drove him out of the room and allegedly strangled Najlaa. Taha ran into the room, and tried to remove his brother's hands from their sister's throat, but he couldn't and she suffocated to death.

According to the indictment, Mohammed disposed of Najlaa's body in an open field near Shoham. He then moved the body into a hole he dug two days later, covering it with rocks, sticks and sand.

Arab Israeli leaders and representatives of the Joint List and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel continued their protests in recent weeks that had started several months ago, calling for police to step in on violence in the Arab sector and crack down on illegal arms trafficking.

The representatives gathered on Sunday for a silent protest in Jerusalem and announced a three-day hunger strike. They called for the government to "announce a [national] emergency and [create] a detailed government plan that would include a national decree to fight violence and crime in the Arab sector and allocate the resources required for that goal."